Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes accepts he has just days to inject self belief into his decimated squad.
His squad has been torn apart by the loss of Scott McKenna, Craig Bryson, Jonny Hayes, Dylan McGeouch, Matty Kennedy and Bruce Anderson who, along with injured duo Michael Devlin and Sam Cosgrove, are in self-isolation due to a coronavirus crisis at the club.
Those players had been in a city centre bar following the 1-0 loss to Rangers that was subsequently linked to the recent Covid-19 outbreak in the city.
The Scottish Government stepped in to cancel Saturday’s Premiership clash at St Johnstone.
Two players, who were asymptomatic, tested positive and will quarantine for 10 days with the other six self-isolating for 14 days.
That rules them out of Wednesday’s clash with Hamilton and the following trip to Celtic on Saturday, which are still set to go ahead.
McInnes must get a ravaged squad which is also depleted by injury and suspension ready.
He said: “We have to instil that belief and confidence in the players we have here.
“To be honest, I know over the coming days a lot of focus will be on the players who are not available.
“But my focus will be on players who can get a job done, who can get points for the club and who can get on with what they’re jobs are.
“My job is to focus on the boys available to me.
“I prepared a team in preparation for the game at St Johnstone and still feel it’s a team who could have got a result.”
McInnes’ squad was already reduced in numbers due to the financial hit of the coronavirus pandemic.
He has been able to make three signings this summer in Hayes, Tommie Hoban and Leeds United loan striker Ryan Edmondson.
Before the season even started with the 1-0 defeat to Rangers, the Dons suffered long-term injuries to striker Cosgrove (fractured knee cartilage) and centre-back Mikey Devlin (hamstring).
Defender Andy Considine is also suspended for Wednesday’s clash, further depleting McInnes’s bare bones squad.
Despite the vastly reduced numbers, McInnes was happy to play Saturday’s clash at St Johnstone to reduce any disruption to the Saints and the Premiership calendar.
On Thursday night, that game was given the go-ahead following an emergency meeting of the SFA and SPFL Joint Response Group to discuss the Covid-19 outbreak in the Granite City.
However ,on Friday morning, following a meeting of the JRG and the Scottish Government, the game was cancelled.
That trip to St Johnstone has now been rescheduled for Thursday August 20 (7.30pm).
McInnes said: “We were going to be hampered massively with selections, but we were prepared to play the St Johnstone game.
“We trained on Friday morning obviously in preparation for the game and then, when we came off the training pitch, we were told the game was off.
“It actually might not have been the worst thing for us to go out and play a game of football.
“I totally understand the decision for the game to be cancelled. There was further testing over the weekend and hopefully we can have a clean bill of health.”
Despite the positive tests at Pittodrie and the Granite City being in lockdown due to a coronavirus outbreak, the SPFL confirmed on Friday the games against Hamilton and Celtic would go ahead as planned.
However, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon refused to be drawn on those two matches.
On those two games, McInnes said: “We need to be guided by the health professionals.
“In terms of the schedule, we just have to start preparing for the game v Hamilton on Wednesday.
“Nothing changes regarding that until we are told differently.
“We will get tested further, when we are next in, and see where we go from there.
“If we can meet our responsibilities and can go ahead and play games then fine we would do that.
“We would be happy to get back and play football and if that means playing against Hamilton on Wednesday and then Celtic on Saturday, we will deal with that.
“What we are advised to do we will do.
“We don’t want disruption to Scottish football and the club has released a statement endorsing that.
“This could happen to any club in Scotland. We didn’t expect this to happen to us.
“But, we fully accept our roles in this and the actions of the players.”